It happens to me all the time. I meet a woman and I like her. She’s smart, funny, kind and down to earth.
Then I meet her husband.
I’m left scratching my head in confusion. “Why is such an intelligent, charismatic woman with a man like that?”
I spent a decade behind the chair. I can rock out a precision bob and do extreme color correction like nobody’s business, but my real area of expertise is women. Over all those years I spent thousands of hours talking to women. Small talk is one of the most important parts of being a hairstylist, if not the most important part. But I shouldn’t say “small talk” because when women are in the salon, therapy happens. You’d be amazed by some of the deeply personal information I knew about my clients. I knew two of them were pregnant before their husbands did. I was also one of the few people who knew that a client’s son was in prison for child molestation.
What did I learn from talking to hundreds of women for all those years?
Most women have very little confidence.
Women will change who they are for love.
I’m not just talking about straight women. This isn’t me bashing men. I love men. This is about women and their lack of self esteem, their desire to please at the cost of their own identity. I watched my lesbian clients do this too. They meet someone new and soon they’re listening to her music, watching her shows and going to her stylist. They would eventually break up and come back to me.
They always came back.
If you’ve ever thought I have a lot of self confidence, this is why. When you listen to this kind of self deprecating drivel all day you start to view it as weak and boring. I began to see it as self absorbed. Come on ladies, get over yourselves.
But I do know how hard that is. I’m not immune to a society that is constantly telling us we’re not good enough.
Here’s what I do know.
If you’re one of my female friends, chances are I think you’re too good for your husband.
We all met for drinks once and he made a homophobic remark about the waiter. But your best friend is gay.
How the hell does that work?
Sure, I mean no one is perfect and we all have off days or suffer from making a bad first impression, but you’re telling me he went on a golfing trip when you were thirty-eight weeks pregnant. You’re telling me that he finds most women’s voices shrill and annoying.
Get your shit together. I’m sure he has good qualities, but you have to ask yourself how this happened.
I have a guess.
I think so many of us grow up wanting so badly to be the object of some man’s gaze, that often we date a boy simply because he likes us.
We want them because they want us.
And here’s where it gets really messed up.
When your husband actually turns out to be impressive, we tend to think you’re a princess. We get resentful. “Oh yeah, her husband does everything,” we say. “Did you know he actually gets up in the middle of the night with the baby? And did you see on Facebook that he sent her away on a surprise trip with her friends? She’s spoiled.”
We get angry. We label you as pampered, and undeserving. Some of us wonder aloud what you did (or do) to deserve this type of treatment.
The truth is we know what you did.
You had self confidence. You didn’t settle. You didn’t win the husband lottery. You chose wisely.
I’m sorry ladies, but this has to stop. We have to figure out a better way to raise our daughters. We need to take a long hard look at “girl’s” movies, shows and books. Gone are the sexist shows like The Brady Bunch and games like Mystery Date, but we still have a long way to go. Look at most of the movies geared toward girls. There is always a love interest.
Sure the end message of Frozen is sisterly love but remember the entire first part of the movie? The part where Anna sings about meeting a special stranger and then agrees to marry a man she just met. Yes, Disney works in a major message about how that’s problematic, but the focus on romantic love is still there. And those two major musical numbers in the beginning? Little girls won’t just forget that shit. They’ll remember that they’re supposed to care about getting married. They get that message loud and clear.
I’m not saying marriage is bad. I’m just saying we don’t do this to boys. The movies/shows my son watches don’t focus on the male character obsessing over a girl. Cody on Rescue Bots isn’t pining after Doc Greene’s daughter Francine. Hiro Hamada in Big Hero 6 doesn’t have a love interest. It would seem silly and forced if he did.
It’s 2016 and we’re still selling this lie to our girls. They’re supposed to attract a mate. Plain and simple. We reinforce the message that if no one is romantically interested in you then you’re defective. So it’s no wonder that so many girls grow up to settle for less than they deserve. We’ve taught them that their value as a person hinges on the desire of someone else.
It’s the craziest shit in the world when you think about it, right? As comedian Dave Attell once said, “The ladies have all the power because the ladies have all the vaginas.” Men should be the ones out there peacocking. We shouldn’t be the ones with the perfume, jewelry and make-up on. We shouldn’t be the ones out there trying to “catch” a man and convince him to settle down. Why are men so scared of getting married anyway? Hell, if I could find a good woman I’d marry her ass tomorrow, and I’m a straight lady. Getting to share your home with a kind, nurturing, and loving woman (or gay guy) is the best thing on earth. Sign me up for that whole sister wives thing. I’m down.
I don’t have the answer on how we fix this. Keeping my baby girl from watching Cinderella isn’t the panacea here folks. But I can control how I speak to her about her future, dating and about marriage. So, let’s stop teaching our daughters that pairing up is important and inevitable. Let’s use the word choose, as in “If you choose to get married one day.”
Because ladies, marriage isn’t the prize.
We are the goddam prize.
[On behalf of my deliciously bearded husband I must tell you that he is fantastic. Although he has never sent me away on a girl’s weekend. WTF dude?]